Mamma Mia, Mario Kart!


by Krystin Pipkin (@Krystin_Makari)

Everyone loves some healthy competition…unless it’s Mario Kart. It’s all fun and games until someone throws a red turtle shell. A once lovely gathering of friends soon turns into a chaotic cluster of yelling and laughing, creative swearing, and throwing of controllers. “Hey! Don’t you dare choose Yoshi. He’s mine!” OH NO, MARIO. This matter of Mario Kart anxiety overtakes even the best players. Whether you are playing Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Game Cube, or Wii, the same anxieties seem to apply across the board.

Red turtle shells

These bad boys strike fear into the hearts of most players. Experienced players know, however, that you need to still get a good aim on someone to ensure it hits. When you have a red shell in your hands, you feel a sense of empowerment. When an opposing player has the shell and is coming in close, your heart beats fast, your palms start to sweat, your judgment gets clouded and you make poor decisions. But that’s not the worst thing. What’s scarier than a red turtle shell? Three red turtle shells circling around an opposing player. Godspeed, friend.

Falling off the side of the road

The frustration of falling and losing your place in the race gets to the best of us. Losing first place and falling into water, lava, or space makes many want to scream. Worst of all is when Lakitu, the cloud guy with a fishing pole (yeah, that guy has a name), takes what feels like a lifetime to retrieve you from your fallen state. Then you get so impatient you feverishly push A, and end up spinning out as he sets you down. Thanks for nothing, you useless reptile.

Trying to successfully maneuver secret paths

One tends to feel really accomplished if they can successfully maneuver a secret road or passage, like jumping the wall on Wario Stadium. Some can miraculously jump through the secret cave through the waterfall in Koopa Troopa Beach. Tip of the hat to you. However, when you miss your moment, no matter how many times you try over and over…and over… you just get thrown back to last place looking foolish.

Levels with complicated obstacles

It wouldn’t be a fun race if you didn’t have any obstacles in your way, no matter how ANNOYING they may be. Some levels are just extremely obnoxious to maneuver, like Bowser’s Castle. When a person chooses that level, you’re already doomed from the start. You’ll probably be the person who gets hit by every car in Toads Turnpike, runs into every penguin in Sherbet Land, drives across dirt, water, mud or grass, or gets lost seven times and falls off the edge in Yoshi Valley.

Underestimated weapons

It’s true some weapons aren’t as exciting as others. But a seasoned player knows how to use a green turtle shell to their advantage and strike fear into my heart. It’s frightening being 1st place, scared of the unknown coming from behind you, armed with next to nothing. I deeply loathe the upside-down question mark box. Although, the banana peel really is a gem. That yellow friend can protect you from most oncoming shells. Plus, with a banana train going behind you, you can make a pretty great trap for racers. But when you FINALLY get that triple mushroom, and out of nowhere it disappears as a ghost steals it from you? Is NOTHING sacred?

Battle mode

It’s a cut-throat world in Mario Kart battle. Friends turn to enemies. Word of advice, don’t trust people who say, “Let’s team up! Trust me, I’m on your side.” Lies. Even when you think you are safe, things can quickly turn in to a frenzy. In my house, the N64 Block Fort level was turned into what we called, “Turtle City.” Claim a fort and shoot all your green shells until the floor is full of rebounding ammunition. Good luck.

Blue shells

You can’t escape a blue shell. Your heart pounds as it approaches you. Good luck, first place. Enough said.

Playing with really good people

Some of us aren’t as skilled as others in Mario Kart. When you play, it’s overwhelming as you lose and try to prove you are good enough to hang with the big dogs. Some of us just want to have fun! And sometimes people are extremely competitive to the point that you’re not quite sure of what they are capable of doing to you. You’re sweating, still trying to figure out the controls and steering when all of the sudden you find yourself being lapped and shot at with three red shells. How did this happen? We may never know.

Lightning bolt

I…hate…the lightning bolt. Unless I’m the one who is using it. You go from first place with a huge lead to smashed by the oncoming player. We all know the collective groan around the room as someone initiates the bolt. To make matters worse, Nintendo added the thunder cloud to the Mario Kart Wii. You have a small frame of time to bump another player to get rid of it before it strikes you. Thus, adding to my already heightened stress tenfold!

Rainbow Road

Don’t think I forgot. I saved the best (or worst) for last. Rainbow Road can go from being one of my favorite levels to my own personal hell. Almost everyone I asked said Rainbow Road, regardless of the system, by far caused the highest level of anxiety. It’s usually the longest track of the game with little to no railings. Don’t even get me started on the Chain Chomps. Each system’s version was difficult, but the Wii version is the most unforgiving. The evolution went from relatively difficult to belligerently insane. No matter the version, if you don’t fall off Rainbow Road at least three times I don’t think you are doing it right. You could literally fly off the side of the road and not even realize it was happening. You’re in first, then eighth, and then first again all in a minute. Rainbow Road: bringing friends and family together and driving them apart all in six minutes.


  1. MeganApril 9th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    LOVE this post!!! Mario Kart still one of the best games out there! Ruining friendships one lap at a time! xo

  2. VictoriaApril 10th, 2013 at 8:45 am

    There is an N64 set up in the office of one of the theatres where I work. Every lunch time the staff and free-lance crew sit down and play Mario Kart. But I never join them. Because I know that if they saw the person I become when I play Mario Kart, they’d never hire me again.

  3. JonasApril 13th, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Ah, Mario Kart. Some many memories, and soooo much frustration!

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